Monday, December 7

Hillbilly Enduruh

Friday.  Plans are to get off work early and head to the James Tonyan's Hillbilly Enduro™ and Lifestyle Competition Birthday Weekend Extravaganza.  Somehow, an hour before I'm supposed to get off, a delivery comes up that's all the way out in Shelby, and none of our car couriers can get it done.  It's only four miles off my route to the mountains, so that's how I find myself working over, in a courthouse in Shelby wearing flip-flops, but an hour closer to the woods.

Get to my final destination, ten minutes later I'm in a 4wd mule with a beer in hand out looking for the birthday boy and Rudy somewhere floating down Mills River in a canoe that came from somewhere.

Eventually back at the cabin, others trickle in, more beer, chili, and then out for a night ride on "the property," for the first stage of the competition that never really happens but still takes place in hearts and minds.

Instructions are given and such.

Up and above the cabin, maybe some private places, into the woods, and more up until there's no more up around in our vicinity.

Courage drank and racing started in earnest with best intentions to keep time but mostly focused on not losing anyone on the way down the long forgotten by most folks 'round here double track.

Stage over, no real winners but a lot of losers, bust ass down a washed-out road and back at the cabin.

The games commence.

I made it one round further in the arm wrestling than I thought I would, meaning I lost in the second round to Jim after he got done letting me hold his hand two inches off the table for thirty seconds.

photo cred: Jon Danger
Feats of Strength concluded, and mind games were taken up, exhausting brain power and the will to stay awake.

Competitors were dropping like flies.  There were no clocks in the cabin, creating a Vegas-like time warp.  Before we knew it, there were only four or five of us still awake.  Someone found a timepiece, and we discovered it was 2:30AM.  We were supposed to be meeting Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever and whoever he might bring with him at 10:00AM.

Ummm... errrr... oh.

Woke up in such a fog.  Wandered around the cabin looking for somewhere to stand that would give my phone enough signal to squeeze out a distress text to Eric.  We were definitely going to be late.  Maybe we could pull off 10:30?  It was sure to be a hard rally to get this crew moving towards the hills.

We managed to get everyone up and fed and clothed.  It looked like we were still gonna be slightly late anyways, so I rolled out solo to let Eric know what's what.

The Old Home Place has both kinds of music, Country Music and Country.

Find Eric and his travel companion Mike Brown.  They're up for anything and very understanding of our compromised conditions.

Our group of what feels like twenty riders but was certainly something less rolled upwards in scattered formation, ascending Wash Creek Road to the new Spencer Branch.

A Bigfoot casting at the top for no good reason.

Anyhoo, haters can hate, but I like the new Spencer Branch.  Some gnar was lost, but I'm sure in five years, the rocks and roots will start showing through and we'll have another jewel in the Pisgah crown.

At the bottom, some dissension in the ranks, and there's a split in the peleton.  Some head one way, more than those some head the other direction.

Up and up until we find a quiet happy place to rest...

and prepare our weary legs for some descending.

photo cred: Eric Wever
photo cred: Eric Wever
Down more gnar and then a billion stream crossings that no one seemed to remember when we decided to go this way.

photo cred: Eric Wever
Finally, down at the reservoir, time for some more decision making.

Most of the legs were full of Pisgah riding and most of the shoes attached to those legs were full of Pisgah water.

Everyone decided to head back to the cabin, but Eric and Mike Brown wanted some more, so we went back up... towards Spencer Branch.  I mean, if it was good coming down, it should be twice as good going up... since we'd spend twice as much time doing it.

You know that thing where you're riding with locals and you feel like they know where they're going but somehow you end up off the trail and across the river from where you should be... ?

Back on the right side of the river again and across it a thousand more times.

Up new Spencer Branch, which is twenty more times rideable than old Spencer Branch but still up and painful.  Down all of Trace Ridge, watching Eric and Mike Brown gap me every time the gnar factor goes up and leaf surfing skills and Jedi trail reading becomes necessary.

Down to the bottom, share a postie with Eric and Mike Brown, ride back to the cabin. 

There are some shattered people taking "naps" or enjoying some form off stasis.  Eventually, some rally, more beer, games, and at some point I find myself standing around the kitchen with the remaining two awake people trying to figure out why there's a giant thermometer in the kitchen but no clock.

Bed, wake up, goodbyes, and back home to normal life Sunday morning.

Good times.   Good times.


Rob said...

You brought gears to Jim's party? Bad form man...

dicky said...

My need to test out gears and hard-tailing in Pisgah before January out-weighed any unwritten rules of birthday Jim ride decorum. Time is running short to make expensive, well thought out decisions.